A New York Review Books Original
Henry James led a wandering life, which took him far from his native shores, but he continued to think of New York City, where his family had settled for several years during his childhood, as his hometown. Here Colm Tóibín, the author of the Man Booker Prize shortlisted novel The Master, a portrait of Henry James, brings together for the first time all the stories that James set in New York City. Written over the course of James’s career and ranging from the deliciously tart comedy of the early “An International Episode” to the surreal and haunted corridors of “The Jolly Corner,” and including “Washington Square,” the poignant novella considered by many (though not, as it happens, by the author himself) to be one of James’s finest achievements, the nine fictions gathered here reflect James’s varied talents and interests as well as the deep and abiding preoccupations of his imagination. And throughout the book, as Tóibín’s fascinating introduction demonstrates, we see James struggling to make sense of a city in whose rapidly changing outlines he discerned both much that he remembered and held dear as well as everything about America and its future that he dreaded most.
The Story of a Masterpiece
A Most Extraordinary Case
An International Episode
The Impressions of a Cousin
The Jolly Corner
A Round of Visits
Perhaps of all the provinces in [James’s] realm whose contours remain shadowy and whose topography is unresolved, the city of New York is a prime example. James’s writings about New York disclose, more than anything, an anger, quite unlike any other anger in James, at what has been lost to him, what has been done, in the name of commerce and material progress, to a place he once knew. It is not an ordinary anger at the destruction of beauty and familiarity; it is much stranger and more complex than that, and it deserves a great deal of attention.
— From the Introduction by Colm Tóibín
In many ways, James’s anger at New York is the anger of a scorned lover, of someone who has lost something beautiful and soft.
— The New York Times
…for Colm Toibin, author of The Master, the acclaimed biographical novel about James published last year, James’s anger at the city…reflects his sexual ambivalence, and perhaps offers a clue to the nature of “the obscure hurt” that James claimed he suffered in his youth…
— The New York Times
…the idea that James’s last novel is now being published for the first time since 1911 is frankly incredible.
— The Spectator